I’ve had a splendid idea – well, I think so. Yesterday, I measured out 125 ml of wine into my glass, to see how much that actually was. I was pleased to note that it’s more than I usually pour as a measure. So today, I did it the other way round. 13.5% wine has 10.1 units in a 750 ml bottle, so I did it the other way round and measured out 75 ml, ie one unit. That’s slightly less than I usually pour myself, but not much. Once I get used to the quantity and don’t have to measure it every time (my scales can be set to weigh in millilitres, I’m not having to use a jug), it’ll be a useful check on what I drink. In fact, I reckon on a bottle of wine lasting three nights and often use a splash of that in cooking, which reduces its alcohol content, so I feel reasonably comfortable about the matter anyway. I can’t promise not to have the occasional liver-pickling session of course but, apart from that splendid New Year’s Eve party, I’ve only once come unstuck since Russell died and I didn’t drink that much then, I don’t know what happened but it hit me dismayingly hard and I woke up on the bathroom floor at midnight, having not quite dared to go straight to bed, with a sense of shame and a resolve not to do that again. One learns more from failure, as we tell our students when encouraging them to take risks. And yes, I know it’d be a good idea to have a couple of nights a week when I don’t drink at all, but frankly that’s not realistic.
i went to a Nadfas lecture today, on the painting of the Sistine Chapel, which was very interesting and splendidly delivered. As I went in, one of the committee greeted me warmly but rather too sympathetically and a lump rose in my throat – yes, I’d had to pluck up a degree of backbone to go, but not that much and I’d had a couple of brief, smiling chats already. There’s a fine line in regard to the best approach and meeting it head on is quite all right, except that four months on, maybe a cheerful “lovely to see you, hope you’re doing okay” is a bit more tactful in a roomful of people. One the way out, I spotted another friend and didn’t catch her eye, I wasn’t equal to the possibility of more sympathy.
The local cyder club is having its annual wassail party and, because it’s on the eve of Burns Night, they’ve decided on a Scottish theme. The combination of rotgut cider and haggis is too much for me and I’m giving it a miss this year. The Yacht Club is adding a piper and poetry to their bash the next night – sadly, though I’m rather fond of Burns, I’ve never been anywhere where they’ve piped in the haggis and I never intend to. I have no idea how it’s come about that a dish of offal and oatmeal is treated with more ceremony than the magnificence of English roast beef, but people can take pride in strange things. I don’t mind haggis, but I’d never actually choose it from a menu.
The accountant has sent me my tax returns for the year. I haven’t opened them yet. That’s the job for tonight, along with a form from the Inland Revenue to fill in, to work out my new tax code. I just have to open three envelopes (yes, that’s how many tax returns to be filed this year: yes, I pay a lot to my accountant) and check figures and sign my name, look up some figures and fill in a form. I can do that. It’s not as if it’s difficult, it’s – oh look, I’m just going to open the damn envelopes and find out how much I’ve got to pay.
Oh! This is a low payment year – because of the odd way that the self-employed tax is dealt with, I always way overpay one year and don’t have much to pay the next. I’ve got less than £1,200 to pay. I’ve saved up masses in preparation and most of it isn’t needed.
I have fish for supper and have put a potato in the Aga to bake and picked some Swiss chard. I will have another glass of wine, in the happy knowledge that I don’t drink more than is good for me after all. Or not often, anyway.